NY Phil Shares a Digital Treasure Trove
Digital Archives project makes available conducting scores, printed programs, photographs, audio and video samples, and much more
Memory lane is being repaved in zeroes and ones at the New York Philharmonic. In February, the orchestra unveiled its multi-year Digital Archives project that will make available conducting scores marked by Leonard Bernstein and others, printed programs, business records, photographs, audio and video samples, and much more online. Philharmonic archivist and historian Barbara Haws says her team plans to have 1.3 million pages posted in three years as part of the first phase of the project. “Our goal is not only to make the documents as beautiful as possible so that they’re easy to see, but to make it comprehensive,” Haws says. “We want the researcher to not wonder what we might have left out.”
The first phase covers the period from 1943 to 1970, which the orchestra has dubbed the International Era. Haws notes that this was a time the orchestra toured extensively, accepted more women into its ranks, moved to Lincoln Center, and harnessed multimedia formats including television. The following phases will be the Founding Era, 1842–1908, and the Modern Era, 1909–43.
Scholars and laymen alike are free to peruse the historical documents and leave comments with the threaded discussion feature. Comments will be reviewed by Haws—a 25-year Philharmonic veteran—and other experts. “If you misquote from this file or if you don’t look at another reference that might relate to it in the collection, the scholarly world is going to catch [that] because it’s so easy now to find it,” Haws says. “Before you had to come here, you had to know what else existed. Now everybody knows what exists. It’s going to make everybody extremely careful and honest."